The Third Sunday In Lent - 2012
March 11, 2012
In the liturgy for this Third Sunday of Lent we are presented with notions that relate to most believers’ Lenten practices or faith: CLEANSING. In the Exodus reading we read of the foundations for a cleansing of one’s life: the Ten Commandments. The thoughts of the evangelist, John, likewise focus our attention on the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. In essence these two readings are a presentation of the expectations God has for each of us during our time on this earth. The very first of the Commandments sets a clear standard for the life of a Christian: God expects that there will be no other person or thing that supplants giving God the first place in life. Yet, truth be told and recognized, most of humanity at one time or another gives our Creator a demotion from his supreme role.
When examined well, our readjustment of the prime order comes about through our own laziness. Other issues, noble in themselves but far from surpassing our Creator are family, work, neighborhood involvements, civic obligations, recreational pursuits, even our Church “weasel God from being Almighty.” Probably the most important cause for our demoting God is BUSY-NESS. Then there will be a day when we realize how we have avoided God and some parts if not all parts of life are a mess.
Then there are “those moments” when we elect a new leader in our lives. We surrender to our egos. Something enters our life and we let it happen: a Sunday picnic, a team sport (especially for one’s children -- once religious education classes are finished so often is Mass attendance). Of course there is every intention of returning to what adults know to be our obligations. Have you ever seen a time occupier given complete control in one’s life to easily step down for God to regain his place of preeminence? When God has been removed from his throne, there will be the day when the question surfaces: “How did I let myself get into such spiritually vacuous state?”
What do you think it was that Jesus confronted when he walked into the Temple as described in the second reading? Or what confronted the Son of God ? Easily, if we know the circumstances -- all of them -- we see that Jesus comes upon what appeared to be little more than a religious carnival where ferris wheels and throwing rings on bottle necks had not come about. Don’t think that prayer, worship and God were the principal events in the Temple!
Actually angered by what confronted him, Jesus made a whip and drove from the sacred Temple the far-from sacred. The sacred had become nothing but a marketplace. As the Son of God, Jesus would not and could not stand by, allowing desecration.
The season of Lent is a time when we are called upon to examine our own temples, the temple of the Holy Spirit that each of us is. Hopefully those who say they are practicing something for Lent realize that all of our Lenten sacrifices are taken up in order to help us use a feather duster to put cleanliness and order back into our lives. The Ten Commandments are the code for living that our sacrifices, our prayer, our fasting, our almsgiving are meant to enhance and, where necessary, to repair.
If we are truly members of this modern society, can there be any doubt that we have not, at least to some degree, become somewhat like the merchants that met Jesus in the Temple? Have the levels of “commerce and noise and clutter and profanity” become more powerful that prayer and praise?
Let this Lent be a time of cleansing. For a serious adult can simply abstaining from Hershey bars or bags of popcorn before a TV set be taken as a serious effort to cleanse whatever might need removal from his/her Temple of the Holy Spirit that may no longer have the Creator God as the Supreme Being in life?
You be the judge!